Unlike a good bottle of wine, feelings are not meant to be bottled for years, they’re actually meant to be felt!
In my experience, there is a rarely spoken truth that Moms quite often take on the feelings of everyone else at the expense of their own. This can be overwhelming & scary.
It’s not easy to watch anyone experience a hard time but for a mom, having to watch our child go through something difficult is a whole other kind of pain. We want to take it on ourselves or make it all go away. If we are unable to feel our own feelings, it will be even more difficult for us to be their effectively for our child.
We’re afraid to feel because we’ve been taught & even shown repeatedly that pain is “bad”. Any pain, physical or emotional, must be avoided at all cost. I don’t know about you but I ain’t no dummy, I’m going to try and avoid pain whenever possible.
The problem with this is that if we avoid feeling pain long enough, we come to believe that we can’t handle our pain & that’s simply not true. If feeling pain killed us, there wouldn’t be many humans left in this world.
In fact the opposite is true, feeling pain is usually what births life in us, gives us the will to do better, pushes us to places we may not have gone on our own & is where we learn & grow the most.
Our children are super aware of what they are feeling in their bodies as a survival mechanism. When kids feel something, they feel it with every one of their senses, so their reactions will often be “big”.
They will typically act out in ways that make us uncomfortable but don’t let their reactions scare you, they are literally just communicating “something doesn’t feel right inside me & I don’t have the words, skill, ability or courage to articulate it.”
They are acting out what they are feeling inside. Like a game of charades, we need to play the game to figure out what they are trying to tell us. Sometimes we get it right & other times we miss but here are some ways to support your child in feeling their feelings:
LISTEN WITH YOUR FULL ATTENTION ~ Use body language to show that you are present with them & have no where else to be.
USE FEW WORDS ~ Don’t be wordy, “um” or “oh”, is enough, you don’t have to have answers. Questions & advice can make anyone shut down or feel attacked.
NAME THE FEELING ~ Help them understand what they’re feeling by giving it a name. “It sounds like you’re disappointed”, or frustrated, jealous, bored, tired, discouraged, embarrassed, overwhelmed, etc.
GRANT THEIR WISH ~ Give them what they want in fantasy. We don’t have to always teach a lesson or be “right” Sometimes all we have to do to diffuse big emotions is to agree. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could eat ice cream for every meal!”
Remember feelings don’t last when you feel them. Your child won’t stay sad, scared, confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry forever. It seems counter intuitive to “do” nothing but if you remove your own fear, you really don’t need to say or do anything. You just need to be able to hold a safe space for your child’s feelings & trust you both can handle them.
So pour yourself a glass of wine & have a toast to feeling your feelings!
Lindsay Lal Professional Coaching